At the very least, La Rochelle will not face all Ireland on Saturday 28 May during the European Rugby Cup final. Opposing Leinster, who resembles the national team workers, the Maritimes will have a representative of the Emerald Isle in their ranks. Not only that: the legend Ronan Ogara.
The 45-year-old Irishman, who is Rochelle’s head coach, knows his future rivals well. As a player (1997-2013), the former opening half was only for one club: Leinster’s rival province, Munster. “But it doesn’t matter if it’s Leinster or any other club, it’s important to be in the final.”Provokes a party of interest in French with a strong accent that evokes more Irish years than was born in San Diego, USA.
Before taking his place on the edge of the field on Saturday, Ronan Ogara took a path that few people could have guessed from the time of Ronan Ogara. In 2013, the opener left the field with the longest record of his kick, either at the club (two European Cups in 2006 and 2008, the record for most points scored in a match) or in the green jersey of XV du Clover (128). Selections, a Six Nations Tournament 2009).
It seems logical that he should start his career as a finishing coach as a player at Munster. But Ronan Ogara takes everyone to the wrong foot by packing his bags at Racing 92 (then Racing Metro 92) in France in 2013.
Defense, Management and Demand
Even Laurent Labit, then coach of the Ile-de-France club with Laurent Travers at the time, was surprised at the choice. “We knew the player, but we were a little surprised he wanted to come to us.”, Explains the Blues’ assistant coach. The two decide to give it a shot anyway and appoint Ogara as the kicking coach.
“Leaving my country was important to me, especially since I have always been attracted to France.”, However, the Irishman says he has suffered the worst in his career against France’s XV (12 defeats and three wins and a draw).
Not far from Munster, Ronan Ogara is learning fast. Not known as the best tackler, he quickly took over the defense of the Ile-de-France club. “He’s tired of being considered just a goal scorerLaurent Labbitt remembers. Just because you do not have Defender’s profile does not mean you do not like it. He has a remarkable organizational ability and he has made us one of the best defenses in Europe. ⁇
The results are not far off, especially as France won the title in 2016 at the expense of Toulon. Ogara has been instrumental in the management of the club’s English – speaking players, beginning with Jonathan Sexton, who returned to racing at the same time as Jonathan Sexton a few years after taking over from the Irish team.
But Ogara struggles to lead the whole team. “He can be terrible in management with players who have played a few games. It was difficult for him to understand their presence in the workforce, and he did not hesitate to inform them.Says Laurent Labyrinth.
“I am a very demanding person.O’Gara openly agrees. But I think I have a lot of sympathy. I try to understand the man in front of the player. ⁇ In 2017 he developed a characteristic of leaving racing and going to the other side of the world, to New Zealand, to the Crusaders.
As the back coach of the franchise for two years, he won two Super Rugby matches. “Everything changes” For him. “Today, I see positivity everywhere, and I’m more optimistic about rugby than I do in everyday life. ⁇
“Culture of Success”
Returning to Europe, he went on to Charente-Maritime in 2019, first pairing up with New Zealander Jono Gibbs, and then single-handedly picking France this season.
The wind is quickly blowing in the right direction: after the first season of the health crisis, Rochelles will reach the final of the 2021 European Cup (with a win over Leinster in the semi-finals) and stumble against Stade Toulouse each time in the Championship, de France.
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“Like other Irish people, he has an incredible mentality. He has this winning cultureLaurent Labbit explains. He is convinced that he can win every game this season if the players do the right thing. ⁇
At a press conference on Monday, May 23, the third line, Rochelleis vian Leibenberg, confirmed: “He often says that playing in the finals is not fun and that it is important to lift the trophy. He loves big moments and he lives for them. ⁇
This is Ronan Ogara “Fascinated by rugby”, He himself admitted that he had carefully avoided dealing with the media for a long time for fear of being diverted from his goal or his comments being misinterpreted. “When he played in Ireland, the tabloids marked him,” Laurent Labyrinth confirms and will see him back there. I’m sure he has a choice in the back of his mind. ⁇
He’s reassuring, he’s seen staying in La Rochelle, and creating exactly the same “Irish” atmosphere with players who sign up for the long haul. There is nothing like the first European title to bring Stade la Rochelle into a new era.
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